Monthly Archives: March 2015

Featured Song: My Last Step Beyond

I’ve introduced Edenbridge a few weeks ago, with the selection, “Winter Winds”, being inspired by the weather of the day.

I could probably say wonderful things about almost any Edenbridge song, but there are a handful that stand out to me as my very favourites. I’m going to embark on featuring each one in turn, roughly in chronological order of release.

For starters, here is “My Last Step Beyond”, from their debut album Sunrise in Eden.

Edenbridge have a habit of including a 10-minute (or longer) song on each of their albums; it’s not uncommon for these songs to be among my favourites (you may have noticed that I like long songs; I find they give composers the space to develop their topics thematically and musically in a way that your average 3-minute song cannot). In any case, for Sunrise in Eden, this song would be it.

Edenbridge put the 10 minutes of “My Last Step Beyond” to great use. The song starts with a pair of guitar sequences, one morphing into the other, that set the tone very effectively. A relatively ordinary verse/chorus passage follows (the weakest part of the song, but it gets better!), which then, with another short guitar sequence and a symphony of bells, transitions into a quiet, contemplative instrumental stretch. Slowly building tension, this eventually erupts into a beautiful piano solo, topped off with a guitar solo (can’t have an Edenbridge song without one of those!). Finally, it’s time for my favourite part: Sabine’s soaring, ethereal vocals bringing the song to a very satisfying conclusion.

This song is a great example of one of the things I like so much about Edenbridge: the way they put an adventurous spin on whatever they sing about – in this case, crossing into the afterlife.

Featured lyrics:

The guardian angels, they’re calling my name
An astral dream in the sky?
They’re dancing at the carnival of souls
They dance into the light, into eternal light

I’m singing the tune in unison with angels
In the key of Lordian harmony
The journey has an end
I’m waiting in command
Never to contend

(No, I don’t know what “Lordian harmony” means. It could be a religious reference (as in “harmony of the Lord”), or perhaps a shout-out to the little-known metal band Lordian Guard).

Full lyrics can be found in the video’s description.

The journey will continue!


Featured Song: Lemuria

Therion is a very interesting symphonic metal band from Sweden. They have a very versatile sound which has evolved over their 20+ year career, but a common theme in their work seems to be mythological and occult themes – as already evident from their name, which is short for “To Mega Therion” (“the great beast” in Greek), which is a reference to the Book of Revelation.

Today’s song, the title of track of their album Lemuria, is no exception, mentioning as it does things like the “Land of Mu” and “Narayana the seven-headed one”. “Lemuria” itself is a mythological buried continent (think Atlantis), supposedly in the Indian Ocean, which sailors have historically been drawn to try to find, only to meet their demise in treacherous waters.

I think Therion did a really great job creating a surreal, hypnotic atmosphere that fits well with the song’s subject matter. Certainly not the sort of song you hear every day!

Featured lyrics:

In the ocean
Deep down
Under raging waves
Wrapped in memories
You’ll find
Wrecks of stately ships
They all went astray

Full lyrics and some discussion here. Enjoy!

Featured Song: Mea Culpa & Leaden Legacy

This week’s selection is likely to be the least mainstream one so far, containing as it does passages sung in a growling / “death grunt” style.

I don’t actually like death grunts, and I tend to stay away from bands where they are the predominant form of singing (i.e. death metal bands), but there are a few bands that manage to balance them nicely with soprano vocals and other symphonic elements, and I tolerate them there. After Forever is one such band.

With their first album released in 2000 and their last in 2007 (the band has subsequently disbanded), After Forever has had a short but glorious run, producing some high-quality and emotionally powerful music with a lot of raw energy.

The band underwent a slight change in musical style when composer and founding member Mark Jansen (pronounced “YAHN-sen”) left, going on to found Epica (a band which has more than lived up to its name, and which I’ll definitely be featuring in due course).

Today’s song is from the time he was still with After Forever. Technically, it’s two songs – the main one is “Leaden Legacy”, the second track of After Forever’s debut album, Prison of Desire, but it’s preceded by a short instrumental/choral piece called “Mea Culpa”, which makes a nice prologue for it, so I thought I’d combine them into one.

In fact, “Mea Culpa” and “Leaden Legacy” are the first and second instalments of a series of 10 songs written by Mark Jansen called The Embrace That Smothers, which extends across his move from After Forever to Epica (the first 4 being After Forever songs, and the remaining 6 Epica songs). The series explores the effects of religion, and particularly of historical interpretations of religion – this is the “legacy” that’s being referred to as “leaden” in this song – on society (there are some thematic parallels to Within Temptation’s Truth Beneath the Rose).

This is also the first song I’m posting that features vocals by Floor Jansen (no relation to Mark Jansen). Floor is one of my favourite singers, possibly second only to Tarja Turunen. A very well-trained and versatile vocalist, her career spans being the lead singer of After Forever, her solo project ReVamp, and most recently, being the new lead singer of Nightwish. One of the reasons I chose “Leaden Legacy” over other old-school After Forever favourites was because of how beautifully it showcases her voice.

Here it is!

Featured Lyrics:

Doomed to wander in repressed emotions
This imaginary refuge restrains me from awakening

Full lyrics and discussion can be found here (for Mea Culpa) and here (for Leaden Legacy).

Featured Song: Nothing Else Matters

I’m not as much of a diehard fan of Metallica as I am of some of the symphonic metal bands I’ve featured so far, but there are a few songs of theirs I’m quite partial to, and “Nothing Else Matters” is one of them.

Catchy without being poppy, it manages to be thought-provoking, dramatic, and uplifting at the same time, and I always find it inspiring. Probably unsurprisingly by now, my favourite part is the guitar solo near the end, a fitting climax of an intensity you wouldn’t predict from the song’s laid-back opening.

The song has an official music video, but I didn’t find it particularly engaging, so I chose instead a video where the author has set the song to a slideshow of images; I find these tend to complement music nicely.

Featured Lyrics:

Never cared for what they say
Never cared for games they play
Never cared for what they do
Never cared for what they know
And I know

Full lyrics and discussion can be found here.